Saturday, June 23, 2012

A Weed By Any Other Name Is Still a Weed?

I've been meaning to get back here, I really have!  But I've been busy with a lot of other things.  I still don't get all my projects done that I'd like, but I guess the most important things, such as keeping my family fed and clothed, is getting done.

Lately I've been focused on weeds.  What is a weed?  Having a garden (or two or three) to tend, this is a topic that will come up eventually.  And there are differing perspectives on just exactly what makes a plant a weed.  I heard it said once that a weed is any plant for which you haven't yet discovered a use.  I asked some of my friends recently to share their own personal definition of a weed, and this is what they had to say:

"My favorite theory is that a weed is any plant that is growing where the gardener doesn't want it to grow."
"A weed: an unwanted plant."
"A weed: any plant in a space I do not want it in."
"To me a weed is a plant that is not in a place where I want it."
"Any flower is technically a weed."

I also asked, "Are there any plants that you always consider a weed? And under what circumstances do you not care about weeds?"

"Scotchbroom is a weed.  It is an annoying noxious weed.  It grows and grows and grows.  Teenagers don't grow as fast as Scotchbroom, and you and I both know just how fast teenagers grow!"
"Sow thistles are always a weed to me!"
"Nope.  Most."
"No.  When it is in a place that I don't care if it is overtaken with greenery."
"No, not really. It really depends on if I am low on something as to whether it will stay or not.  I really don't care about my weeds if they can be well hidden. In town the tend to frown on anything that they don't care for. For instance, we eat and use our dandelions, but the neighbors would rather sneak over in the dark of the night and spray them all gone. LOL"
" IF I had a garden I'd weed out the plants that I would not use to produce food, herbs, or what I consider beauty."

Since I do have a garden (or two or three) I've had to make some of the decisions on what to pluck out of the ground and what to leave.  My mantra of late has been, "If you don't know what something is, leave it alone until you can positively identify it as something you don't want!"  Unless you are very familiar with what a plant looks like in its early stages of growth, you might very well pull out something you really did want.

What are some possible reasons for not weeding?
  1. When you have newly planted seeds or young plants, pulling up nearby plants might disturb the soil too much and uproot or stress them.  In this case, wait until the plants you want to keep are a bit bigger with some established roots.
  2. You might accidentally pull up the wrong plant.
  3. Any plant that is larger provides some shade, which is a good thing to a baby plant in the hot sun.
  4. Any plant that is larger provides some wind protection, which is a good thing if you live where the wind blows quite fiercely at times.
  5. Any plant growing provides protection against soil erosion and water loss.  Observe that bare dirt dries out faster than where vegetation is growing.
  6. Some plants send down deep taproots, to reach the water and minerals that are deeper in the soil, also bringing them up to the surface.  This provides a pathway of loosened soil for neighboring plants to reach down for the good stuff.  Most garden vegetables don't have a deep root system.
  7. Most "weeds" are edible, and are actually more nutritious than the stuff you plant, plus they will grow better because they are hardier and more acclimated.
  8. Many "weeds" are medicinal.
  9. The plant is pretty.
  10. It's a lot of work :D

And I suppose, to be fair, I should list some reasons you might want to weed:

  1. You like the "neat" appearance of bare soil around your plants.
  2. Some people believe that "weeds" compete for water and minerals (which they might at certain stages of growth.)
  3. You might be allergic to a particular plant.
  4. They shade your plants too much.
  5. They might obstruct proper growth of the plant you are cultivating.
  6. They might really be "taking over" your garden.

Please feel free to share any of your reasons for or against "weeding" "weeds" out of your garden, yard, or elsewhere.

At the moment, there are two plants that are pulled out at sight:  Wormwood and Ragweed (I don't have any pictures at the moment of either one).  Both plants when in bloom cause bad allergic reactions to people who live on or come to the farm.  In the garden and immediately around it, they are uprooted, if at all possible.  Elsewhere on the farm, they are mowed down before blooming.  Both plants are medicinal in nature, but are not needed in great quantity.  The pastured animals will eat wormwood when they need it, but it otherwise gets left alone.  A tincture can be made of ragweed blooms to prevent the hay-fever / allergic reactions, but since it takes several weeks to prepare the tincture, it won't be of any use until the following season.

As to what "weeds" I am less likely to uproot, that will have to wait for another post.  I intend to write about each one that I have encountered in our yards and gardens.  Or, at least a few of the more interesting ones.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Scent of Springtime

Spring is in the air.  I mean that quite literally.  A couple times this past week I've caught a faint whiff of it.  Tonight I smelled it again.  I don't know exactly what it is, but when I smell it I am instantly transported to sometime in my childhood.  Can I describe the smell?  Not really.  For some really strange reason it always makes me think of zwieback toast.  Once, many years ago, I bought some zwieback just so I could taste it.  Unfortunately, this smell of spring smells nothing like the toast tastes, so I cannot explain to you why it pops into my mind.  Perhaps the first time the smell embedded itself into my memory my little brother was eating zwieback?  Anything is possible, I suppose.

The smell is elusive, only letting me catch it's scent when I least expect it, it seems, and not always every year.  In years past I have tried to track it down, but it doesn't seem to emit from a single thing.  Rather, it is more a combination of springiness.  If someone could bottle it, I am certain it would be a very popular fragrance.  The best I can deduce it has pear blossoms, perhaps apple blossoms as well, the earliest hint of lilac, and probably a myriad of other spring blooms.  The scent of newly cut grass is not a part of it, and in fact quite overwhelms the more delicate fragrance of spring.  I think that, despite the fact that it begins in spring, lawn mowing is more a scent of summertime.  The rich greens are much more aggressive than the pale flowers that awaken after the snow and frost have gone away.

It doesn't matter so much to me what exactly it is, I am thankful that it is.  It's my own personal announcement that spring has indeed arrived for another season in my life.  I love that I have been able to share it with my husband, and he, too, is mystified as to its composition.  Hopefully someday when our little man cub is a bit older, spring will surprise us once again with the unfolding of its fragrance, and we will be able to share it with him.  And who knows just what memories it will reawaken in him as he grows older?  Let it be love, joy, and peace.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Whats "goot" about today?

Man-cub is sick.  Sore throat, cough, congestion, tired watery eyes, feverish, not sleeping well, and general crankiness.  No fun for any of us!

I'm a firm believer in letting the body fight its own way through most things, and give it the support it needs with good food, herbs, homeopathics, lots of liquids, and rest.  I try to avoid OTC "remedies" as much as possible, and doctors even more!

Yesterday I made GOOT.  "What is that?" you ask.  It's a blend of garlic, olive oil, and coconut oil, and it's a very effective way to get the garlic into little bodies without trying to make them eat it.  The original links where I found the recipe years ago seem to be gone now, except for this one at a health forum.  (It's a great forum, by the way, with a LOT of information!)

Here's the basic recipe:

  • 3 Tbs Virgin Coconut Oil
  • 3 Tbs Olive Oil
  • 3 Tbs fresh, minced garlic

(As you can see, it's equal parts of all three ingredients.  If you find that you don't need this much, then next time simply downsize the recipe.  Or, make more!)

You will need to warm the coconut oil until it is melted.  I put the jar into a pot of very hot water until I had enough.  Mix all three ingredients together in a blender (I used my Magic Bullet) until it's pretty well pureed.  You can strain it if you like (I did this time, and I'll tell you later what I did with the garlic stuff) which gives a nice smooth consistency for application, or leave it all in (which I have also done) in which case it will probably get more potent.  I put it in a glass jar and store in the fridge.  It will be like a paste that melts quickly when you put it on.

GOOT in a 1/2-pint jar
GOOT, easy to spread

What do you do with it?  The CO and OO are great carrier oils and will help the skin absorb the garlic without worrying about the garlic oil burning the skin.  It's really great for rubbing into the soles of your feet; you might want to designate a single pair of socks as GOOT socks for a while!  It is also good for rubbing into the chest.  Both are areas where the skin more readily absorbs stuff.

From this blog (and I'm pretty sure she copied this information from one of those broken links I was telling you about):

GOOT, rubbed into the skin, transfers raw garlic oil directly into the blood stream. Raw garlic is a natural antibiotic that does not carry the bad flora that a Rx antibiotic will put into your intestines.
Apply on the feet of children or infants to fight infections. Rub on chest for chest colds, pneumonia or rub into nostrils for sinus infections. Place on cotton swab for ear infections. Apply directly to sores inside the mouth. Rub on Athlete’s foot or genital area for jock itch. Insert GOOT into affected area for yeast or other related infections. Apply on rashes any place. GOOT kills Candida, parasites, bad bacteria and virus by direct application.
In addition, it treats systemic infections by absorption through the skin into the blood supply and travels throughout the body. After two weeks, make a new batch of GOOT.

One trick I have learned when dealing with small children is to have their sock partially on, over the toes, so it's ready to be pulled onto the foot as soon as you apply the GOOT.

So what did I do with  the garlic that I strained?  I added it to butter, melted it in a hot skillet, and put in some homemade bread to "toast", liberally sprinkling it with sea salt.  Now THAT is some "GOOT" garlic bread!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Thankful Thursday, January 19, 2012

Today I am thankful for sunshine in the middle of winter.  I grew up with mostly grey skies from November through March, with very few blue skies in between, which leads a great many people into depression.  But having sunshine, even in the cold, at least every 2-3 days, makes winter bearable.

Friday, January 6, 2012

And So I Begin Again

Life has been crazy.  Fun, wonderful, frustrating, sad, joyful...everything life usually is, I guess.  I just haven't been focused on blogging.  But I think I'm ready to begin again.  I hope. 

So what has happened since I last posted?  The best thing is My Man finally joined me and we have been enjoying being a family again!  We're a full-time family, and we love it this way.  What does that mean?  Nobody goes off for hours at a time, day after day, using up their life energy working for someone else.  We work, yes, but at "home" (wherever that may be), together whenever possible.  And NO, I am not sick of being with him night and day :)

The Man Cub is now a toddler, getting into all sorts of mischief, like every mud puddle he can find.  He took his first steps barefooted in the barn.  He is nearly weaned, but I'm not going to force it.  Mornings are his crawl-into-bed-and-take-over-Mommy's-body time.  Of course, Daddy would prefer that to be HIS time to do the same... ;)  ANYWAY, back to the boy.  He isn't talking much yet, in OUR language, but knows several signs and has just the past couple of weeks been attempting to say some words.  He got his first haircut (by ME, naturally) on the New Year, and of course I saved a fuzzy blond curl.  The Man has been so good about setting up a routine for bedtime, and so the Man Cub is usually in bed by 8pm, which is great!  Although, he seems to have a built-in alarm clock for midnight.  And sometimes 2:30 and 4:30 as well, but he's getting better about going back to sleep.  But once he's up after 5, it's into bed for snuggles and milk. 

I have finally been able to use my sewing machine!  Whoohoo!  I haven't made anything for ME yet, too busy making gifts for others, but I'll get around to it eventually.  I also started crocheting again.  I haven't done that in YEARS.  Now I'm temped to buy pretty, soft yarn in all my favorite colors.

We stayed at the farm through the harvest, and then moved on, intending to head somewhere much warmer, thus avoiding "winter".  Well, we weren't too successful at that!  But we are in a good place for the winter, trying to learn new things while working here.  It's cold most days, and there has been snow, but we also get a lot of sunshine, which is a huge blessing!  I grew up where it's pretty much grey cloudy skies from November to May.  I don't know where we'll go after this, but we're not in a hurry; we want to enjoy this.  It is wonderful to be able to see different parts of the country. 

Hope to make it back here soon!